HOW THE POWER OF MONEY CONTROLLED VOTERS CONSENT

Published by Patra K on

How the power of money controlled voters consent

A young Ugandan man casts his ballot earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of the African Report)

The influence of money in the youth college elections for representatives to Parliament in Uganda was mind-blogging because money did not only talk but shouted.

The thirty-six (36) candidates who contested for the five slots of youth representative to Parliament needed to have enormous sums of money to be able to win the elections. But what enabled the money galore in the youth college elections?

Saga on facilitation of the Youth Delegates

It is important for us to note that college elections for Youth MPs at the regional level are usually held at regional traditional zones/grounds. Therefore, youth delegates have to travel from their districts to the traditional zones to participate in elections.

After traveling, their facilitation for transport, accommodation, and meal facilitation is to be catered for by the Uganda Electoral Commission and not Political Parties or candidates. SecretsKnown established that Uganda Electoral commission did expend over UGX 3.5 billion ($9.8 million) to facilitate the 6,535 delegates that participated in the youth elections as shown below.

ELECTORAL COMMISSION FACILITATION TO YOUTH DELEGATES

Category

Number of Delegates

Facilitation (UGX)

Total Amount (UGX)

Youth MP Central Region

1004

530,000

  532,120,000

Youth MP Eastern Region

1740

530,000

  922,200,000

Youth MP Northern Region

1472

530,000

  780,160,000

Youth MP Western Region

1891

530000

1,002,230,000

National Female Youth MP

428

750,000

   321,000,000

SUB-TOTAL

6535

 

3,557,710,000

Although Uganda Electoral Commission did facilitate delegates, SecretsKnown learned that most delegates received the facilitation money on the day before while others received it on the actual polling day. Such delays of facilitation left the political parties and candidates to bear with delegates’ demands of catering for their transport, accommodation, and food expenses yet the Electoral Commission is mandated to take care of such expenditures.

Some candidates reported to SecretsKnown that the delay in giving delegates facilitation by Electoral Commission was a blessing to financially strong political parties and candidates who decided to take advantage of stranded delegates.

Some delegates confided in SecretsKnown that the NRM party capitalized on such confusion and offered delegates accommodation, meals, and also transport refund which reportedly ranged between UGX 100,000-150,000 ($28- $42) per delegate. This strategy gave NRM candidates an advantage over others candidates and could largely explain why NRM swept all the five positions for Youth representatives in the 11th Parliament.

What made youth college elections expensive?

SecretsKnown was informed by one of the central regional MP candidates that the vastness of the constituency which required the candidate to traverse 27 districts with over 700 counties in the central region made their campaigns very costly, tiresome, and challenging.

SecretsKnown also learned that youth MP candidates needed to have a minimum of UGX 600 million ($ 162,162) to be able to traverse the districts and meet delegates in their areas of jurisdiction or hotels. The vastness of the constituency of about 27 districts in the central region made the cost of campaigns very expensive especially on campaign administrative costs such as fuel, feeding the campaign team, and accommodation.

Money-hungry delegates.

Youth delegates (voters) perceive candidates as Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) or put differently, cash cows. This makes delegates have high expectations of making money from Youth MP candidates. During each meeting with delegates, a candidate has to offer each delegate a minimum of UGX 50,000 ($ 13). Some candidates were reported to have even treated delegates with open bars where they drunk all sorts of expensive wine, whisky, and beers.

SecretsKnown learned that youth delegates (voters) who are also part of the college elections, always do tell candidates contesting for Youth MP or Chairperson National Youth Council that they spent money coming through as delegates, so they expect to get payback from those contesting in higher positions at the regional and national level.

The youth college elections particularly for MPs over the past electoral cycles have become a replete with money as a determining factor of electoral victory. This culture of transactional politics being practiced is continuously excluding countless youth who cannot access campaign finances for contesting as candidates.

Its imperative for all political parties, candidates, and youth themselves to embrace elective politics that is not centered around money but based on the leadership competencies of candidates contesting.

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